Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton doesn't believe race is a factor in the criticism he receives, he told GQ.
"It's not racism," Newton, who is African-American, told GQ for a feature in the magazine's September issue. "Everybody's entitled to their own opinion. I don't want this to be about race, because it's not. It's not. Like, we're beyond that. As a nation."
Newton has been criticized in the past for his play and his demeanor after games, especially after Carolina's defeat in Super Bowl 50, where he left a press conference after ignoring some questions from the media and answering others with one-word answers.
"I'll let you be the judge. I don't look at it like that," he told GQ. "I look at it like some people have certain beliefs, and I have my own belief, and we can agree to disagree on certain things. But this is what makes sports so amazing, that we can start a discussion around a table, in the newspaper, in the magazines, that will get people's attention. And that's what sports does."
Newton, the NFL's Most Valuable Player last season, was asked if he voted on North Carolina's House Bill 2, also known as the state's "bathroom bill," which removes anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community.
“Um…that’s too personal. You know, I gain nothing by answering it," he said.
Because of the law, the NBA announced last month that it will move the All-Star Game from Charlotte next year, potentially costing the city $100 million. The game will now be played in New Orleans.
Newton was also asked if he would let his son play football.
“Of course. Why wouldn’t they let them play football?" Newton says. "But they don’t talk about the joy it brings! Super Bowl Sunday trumps every TV rating known to man.”
- Scooby Axson